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Blood. 2004 Apr 1;103(7):2683-90. Epub 2003 Nov 26.

Defective B-cell-negative selection and terminal differentiation in the ICF syndrome.

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Centre d'Immunologie de Marseilles-Luminy, Marseilles, France.


Immunodeficiency, centromeric region instability, and facial anomalies (ICF) syndrome is a rare autosomal recessive disease. Mutations in the DNA methyltransferase 3B (DNMT3B) gene are responsible for most ICF cases reported. We investigated the B-cell defects associated with agammaglobulinemia in this syndrome by analyzing primary B cells from 4 ICF patients. ICF peripheral blood (PB) contains only naive B cells; memory and gut plasma cells are absent. Naive ICF B cells bear potentially autoreactive long heavy chain variable regions complementarity determining region 3's (V(H)CDR3's) enriched with positively charged residues, in contrast to normal PB transitional and mature B cells, indicating that negative selection is impaired in patients. Like anergic B cells in transgenic models, newly generated and immature B cells accumulate in PB. Moreover, these cells secrete immunoglobulins and exhibit increased apoptosis following in vitro activation. However, they are able to up-regulate CD86, indicating that mechanisms other than anergy participate in silencing of ICF B cells. One patient without DNMT3B mutations shows differences in immunoglobulin E (IgE) switch induction, suggesting that immunodeficiency could vary with the genetic origin of the syndrome. In this study, we determined that negative selection breakdown and peripheral B-cell maturation blockage contribute to agammaglobulinemia in the ICF syndrome.

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